After receiving a formal complaint from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), hotel group Marriott International has removed a YouTube advertisement that encouraged customers to book directly with their hotels.
Allegedly comparing travel agents to dodgy petrol station attendants, the ad was designed to make travellers more aware of the perks they can get when avoiding third parties like getting free Wi-Fi and “the best rates”.
Part of three ads in Marriott’s new “Book Direct” digital campaign, the video has since been set to private, but according to USA Today the commercial showed tourists receiving bad directions from a petrol station employee, who basically wanted to take them on a scenic route.
“We took it down because we didn’t realize it was offensive to travel agents […] The thing with the gas station attendant wasn’t meant to disparage agents; the ad campaign was just meant to be playful,” Marriott’s global director of travel industry sales Carmen Perez told Skift.
The two other ads in the campaign however remain live, and feature YouTube personality Grace Helbig telling travellers that the most direct route is always best. Here’s one of them:
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